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Riots, Rabble and Revolutions: Causes and Consequences of the Arab Spring

Riots, Rabble and Revolutions: Causes and Consequences of the Arab Spring

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Riots, Rabble and Revolutions: Causes and Consequences of the Arab Spring

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  1. Riots, Rabble and Revolutions: Causes and Consequences of the Arab Spring Alumnae Continuing Education January 3rd, 2012 (yes really)

  2. Hendrik Spruyt Professor of International Relations Director of the Buffett Center for International and Comparative Studies Northwestern University

  3. Outline of talk • I. What is a revolution? Does the Arab Spring constitute a revolution? • II. The Arab Spring in comparative perspective • A. Causes • B. The fate of revolutionary movements III. The possible outcome of the Arab Spring Scenarios for the future

  4. I. What is a revolution? What is in a name? • Industrial revolution (Britain 1750s on) • Social revolution (the 1960s) • Cultural revolution (again the 1960s; China) • Political revolutions (American 1776, French 1789; USSR 1917, etc.etc.) • Revolution in military affairs (today’s high tech warfare)

  5. Narrowing the field: Revolutions that involve political change • A working definition of political revolution (Jack Goldstone) • "an effort to transform the political institutions and the justifications for political authority in society.. • accompanied by formal or informal mass mobilization • and noninstitutionalized actions that undermine authorities."

  6. But even then… Types of Political Revolutions: • Republican revolutions • (English 1640; American 1776; French 1789) • Marxist • (Russia 1917, China 1949) • Against dictatorship • (Iran 1979) • Against communism • (East Europe, USSR 1989)

  7. “Mapping” revolutions is thus complex: • Multiple dimensions are involved • Revolutions are short and intense—but what is the relevant time frame? • Sometimes multiple revolutions within the same time span (6 in France 1789-1800) • We only get a full picture in hindsight. Thus: “The owl of minerva…”

  8. II. Revolutions in Comparative Perspective • Thinking about the Arab Spring by reflecting on clearcut cases of revolution: • England 1640-1649; • American Revolution 1776-1783 • French Revolution (1789-?) • Russian Revolution 1917 (March and October);

  9. A. Causes of Revolutions • 1. External context and pressure: • Economic pressures and taxation (American; French; English 1640) • International war (English 1640, Russian 1917), Turkish WW I); • Colonial intrusion (Japan and Meji transformation post 1853) • Globalization today? (USSR 1991)

  10. 2. Existing internal structural tension • Economic divisions (class tensions; unemployed, etc) • Groups that lack political voice (Colonies vs. Metropole) • Inherited privilege vs. meritocracy (French bourgeois vs. feudal prerogatives, 1789) • Groups excluded from economic opportunity or appointments (corruption)

  11. B. What is at stake in revolutionary episodes? • “Moments of Madness”(Aristide Zolberg) • Everything appears possible because political events change human consciousness • “The world turned upside down” • (Christopher Hill on English Revolution—the rise of Ranters, Levellers, Diggers)

  12. Two important interim conclusions • 1. Revolutions create space for alternative conceptions of social, political, and cultural order—fundamental transformation of society, culture and politics

  13. 2. Revolutions create opportunities for • a) Charismatic leaders • Non-routine, not rule bound, and not beholden to their followers • The charismatic leader advances an alternative comprehensive world view, a new future • The leader re-defines the realm of the possible

  14. b) Organizations and institutions that have a comprehensive alternative view • The Communist party’s “Iron Vanguard of the Revolution” • Religious organizations (Islamic theocracy in the wake of Iranian Revolution 1979)

  15. C. The Fate of Revolutionary Movements External Pressure and Structural tensions Discontented groups Demands on govt. Govt. reforms or resists Revolutionary movement wins the struggle Success then disunity

  16. Revolutionary stages • Impetus behind the revolution: External pressure plus pre-existing internal disaffected groups • Often not the poor or dispossessed but intermediate or rising groups without voice

  17. 1st phase: limited demands: • e.g. 1789 French bourgeois revolution. (anti-feudal) • Broad alliance of disaffected groups • Easy to define what one is against • The monarchy, dictatorship, absolutist rule, since they bundle all authority

  18. 2nd phase. Various scenarios • Government meets demands (controlled reform)—revolution is averted • Government succeeds in repression—revolution is suspended but latent • Government falls--moderates ascend—3rd phase commences

  19. 3rd phase: Moderates cannot fulfill demands. • Challenges by conservatives and radicals • Difficulty in re-aligning with conservatives or crushing revolutionary comrades • Moderates have broad membership (loose alliance) vs. radicals with unifying ideology (sometimes charismatic leadership) • Short time frame for moderates to demonstrate change

  20. 4th phase: Radicals ascend • E.g.: Cromwell; Robespierre in French Revolution). • Agitation against counter-revolutionaries; revisionists • Rhetorical and political moves against the moderates. Political Outbidding • Language of the Chinese Cultural Revolution “revisionist dogs”=USSR; “imperial lackeys”=those accused of being pro western or pro-détente; public trials; public self criticism; neighbor surveillance

  21. 5th phase: Dictatorship but less radical in intent. • Radicals turn on each other and the revolution burns itself out • Revolution turns external (nationalist fervor)

  22. D. Where does the Arab Spring fit? • Is it a revolution? • Yes (multiple dimensions; large group mobilization; existing political hierarchy has been challenged) • Self description by the participants as a revolutionary movement: The intent to overthrow the regime and transform society, culture

  23. E. Causes of the Arab Spring? • 1. External pressure: economic retardation • Rank of some MENA countries in economic development • Rank in unemployment rate (CIA 2010): Egypt 101; Tunisia 136; Libya 176; Yemen 181; Gaza strip 183; • But particularly high among the young and educated • Inflation: Algeria 128;Tunisia 128; Syria 129; S.Arabia 155; Gaza 163; West Bank 168; Egypt 205 (11 %) • Perception of relative stagnation

  24. 2. Internal dissatisfaction • Corruption rankings (Transparency International) • Tunisia 73: Morocco 80; Algeria and Egypt 112 (tied); Yemen 164; Libya 168; • Age distribution (Egypt 33% younger than 14 years, Syria 35 % compare US 20%; Germany 13%) • Lack of democratic input (Syrian Assad family in power since 1970)

  25. Unrest due to the gap between rising expectations and outcomes (Gurr) • Educational opportunities improved in some countries but not economic upward mobility. • In Tunisia in 2001 those with higher education (college) and those with no to little education faced an 11 % unemployment rate. • By 2010 almost 25 % of those with higher education were unemployed, compared to 6 % of those will little education.

  26. E. What next? What might unfold in the MENA region? • Politicians and predictions

  27. Do political scientists fare better? • Steven Weber on business cycles (1997) crisis… • “Global capital markets are increasingly efficient at …managing risk, and providing shock absorbers that cushion economic fluctuations. And the wider array of funding sources and more sophisticated risk management techniques are stabilizers for a globalizing economy.”

  28. Oops • Nevertheless: can we integrate the Arab Spring in a wider understanding of revolutionary movements and ask intelligent questions about the future?

  29. III. Possible outcomes of the Arab Spring. Concerns for Democracy • General point made earlier: Charismatic leaders and strong organizations win out in revolutionary struggles • Who are the leaders and institutions with alternative, comprehensive views? • Who are well organized?

  30. Islamic groups, e.g. Egypt: • Muslim Brotherhood (Sunni) 77 of 156 parliamentary seats • Salafists (Sunni but traditionalist) Salafi alliance 33 of 156 seats • Salafists tend not to be politically involved as long as the leader adheres to the faith. If the leader does not then violent opposition is legitimate. • “There is no clear line of distinction between Salafists and the membership of the Muslim Brotherhood.” (Jonathan Brown)

  31. Tunisia: Ennahda party 89 of 217 seats • But prior to elections polled only at 20 % • Conclusion: ability to mobilize the vote • (Other parties 2nd largest CPR, Center-Left-Secular 29 seats, Aridha-former govt?- 26)

  32. Why have Islamic groups been successful? • Natural organizational structure (religious leadership; historical roots) • Comprehensive world view in many aspects • Cross link with multiple social functions (charities, etc.) • Discipline and voter turn out • Ennahda polled 20 % in Tunisia but got almost 40% of the vote, similar development in Egypt with Muslim Brothers and Salafi alliance

  33. The Military • Algerian response to Islamic parties • Traditionally highly respected • In Egypt: external wars with Israel • Residue from colonial liberation struggles (Tunisia, Morrocco, Algeria) • Both Islamic parties and Armed Forces might become obstacles to fundamental democratic reform

  34. B.) Why should we care about democratic reform in MENA? • 1. Democratic Peace Theory • 2. Normative concern with human rights • Richard Williamson: “the Freedom Agenda.” • 3. The effects of repressive regimes spill across borders • Refugee flows

  35. C. Do revolutions have to end up in radicalism or authoritarianism ? Can Democracy take root? • The American Revolution ! • But is the U.S. an exception given the exit of the opposition? Opponents left. • American Revolution does provide other insights • Content of ideas? Presence of alternative conceptions of order • Institutional design • Role of third parties?

  36. Other positive scenarios for the future? • Another wave of democracy ? (East European transformation) • But there: • Consensus on available alternative model (liberal democracy and capitalism) • Existing societal networks—rapid party formation • Third party support (US, EU extension)

  37. Many of the East European characteristics are not present • multiple rival conceptions of order in MENA • societal capital available (Putnam’s Bowling clubs and democracy)…but not proto democratic institutions instead religious groups etc. • Limited role for western third parties

  38. Models? • Algerian model ? • Military rule with oil rents • Turkish model? • Some questions about future of democracy there (journalists in prison; roll back of womens rights; policy towards Israel, Iran) • Theocracy ? (Iran, some groups in Iraq)

  39. D. Conclusions from Political Science Research (A. Roberts) • 1.Economic wealth correlates with democracy • 2. Less clear conclusions on which institutions lead to economic development

  40. 3. Competing arguments whether external intervention can help create democracy • 4. A slight majority believes Islam does NOT harm prospects for democracy

  41. E). Factors that influence possible democracy in MENA • 1. One Arab Spring? • The diversity in the MENA region • 2. Some key differences • Monarchical dynasties (Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Morocco) • Homogeneity (Egypt) vs. multiple identities (religious, linguistic, ethnic, tribal, clan) • Natural resources (oil haves and have nots) • Role of the military • Secular nature of government (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya) and religious standing (Saudi Arabia)

  42. Monarchical dynasties • Limited reforms in Jordan, Morocco, Gulf and Saudi Arabia in response to limited demands • One exception: Bahrain (Sunni minority and Shia majority)

  43. Homogeneity of the population • Homogeneity is not a pre-condition for democracy. Heterogeneous countries can be democratic (US, Canada, India, etc.) • However this depends to some extent on: • Overarching national identification • Crosscutting rather than overlapping and reinforcing cleavages (e.g. economic differences should not overlap with religious) • Political power sharing among different groups

  44. Natural resources (oil) curse or blessing? • Economic consequences of oil • The Dutch disease: • Inflationary pressures • Displaces investment in manufacturing, production, etc • Forestalls fiscal adjustment (overly generous welfare payments) • Of 23 developing countries reliant on natural resource exports, only 2 had annual growth rates over 2% between 1970-1995.

  45. Political consequences of oil rents • 1. Can lead to conflict if unequally distributed (Nigeria) • 2. Allows for poor economic policy as long as oil prices remain high (Venezuela) • 3. Can entrench oligarchy

  46. Political consequences of oil rents • The long shadow of Magna Carta !! • What?? • (61) SINCE WE HAVE GRANTED ALL THESE THINGS for God, for the better ordering of our kingdom, and to allay the discord that has arisen between us and our barons,… we give and grant to the barons the following security: • The barons shall elect twenty-five of their number to keep, and cause to be observed with all their might, the peace and liberties granted and confirmed to them by this charter.

  47. Taxation and representation • Baronial control over the monarch, the royal council’s prerogative to confer and discuss (parler) • No taxation without parliamentary approval • Baronial tax exemption absolutism • (Absolutist France, Spain, Eastern Europe)